July-August 2009

Costello:That's what I'm asking.

Abbott: The Who-

Costello:That's what I'm asking: Who's on first?

Abbott: I'm telling you, Lou: The Who.

Costello: The who what?

Abbott: They areThe Who-

Costello: But who are they?

Abbott: The band on first.

Costello: The band is on first?

Abbott: No, the Band is on next.

Costello: What band?

Abbott: The Band.

Costello: The Band is on first?

Abbott: No,Lou. Who is on first.

Costello:That's what I'm asking you.

Abbott: I'm telling you, Lou: the Who.

Costello: All right, let me see if I get this straight. Who is on first and the Band is on next. Then who is on after the Band?

Abbott: Ten Years After.

Costello: No,right after-immediately after the Band.

Abbott: Ten Years After.

Costello:No-the very next band.

Abbott: After what?

Costello: The Who.

Abbott: Oh,you should have said that in the first place: CSNY.

Costello:Cause I want to know, that's why.

Abbott: I'm telling you, Lou: CSNY.

Costello: I just want to know; that's why.

Abbott: And I'm telling you, Lou-CSNY.

Costello: I don't know, Abbott; that's why I'm asking you.

Abbott: Why do you want to know, Lou?

Costello:Cause I'm here in Woodstock...

Abbott: No,you're not, Lou.

Costello: I'm not? Then where is Woodstock?

Abbott: That's where Dylan lives.

Costello:Dylan lives in Woodstock?

Abbott: All the time-in a house called Big Pink.

Costello: Then why isn't he here?

Abbott: Cause we're not there.

Costello: In Woodstock?

Abbott: That's right.

Costello: Then where are we?

Abbott: In Bethel, New York.

Costello: Where is Bethel?

Abbott: Near Woodstock.

Costello: Then why don't they call it Bethel?

Abbott: Who would come to Bethel?

Costello: We came to Bethel.

Abbott: Not really.

Costello: Then where are we?

Abbott: On Max Yasgur's farm.

Costello: Let me see if I get this straight: We're on Max Yasgur's farm, near Bethel, but they call it Woodstock.

Abbott: That's right, Lou. And Dylan's in Woodstock,but he wouldn't come here if you paid him, which they offered to do.

Costello: Why not?

Abbott: Too many hippies for him.

Costello:What's a hippie?

Abbott: How should I know?

Costello: Then who's on stage now?

Abbott: Winter.

Costello: No,right now-in the summer.

Abbott: I'm telling you, Lou: Winter is here in the summer.

Costello: Winter who?

Abbott: No,Johnny Winter.

Costello: What was that?

Abbott: That was the Star-Spangled Banner.

Costello:Played by who?

Abbott: No, played by Jimi.

Costello: Jimi who?

Abbott: Jimi Hendrix.

Costello: Can he play guitar?

Abbott: Can he play guitar.

Costello:That's what I said.

Abbott: That's what I said.

Costello: Who?

Abbott: I don't know.

Costello: I don't know is on third.

Abbott: Who's on now?

Costello: Wait a second; Creedence is on now.

Abbott: I'm sorry, Lou; I gotta go.

Costello:You're in luck; Fogerty says, there's a bathroom on the right.

Afterword: I wrote this piece after reading a number of stories about the upcoming 40th anniversary of Woodstock. After I finished it the thought occurred to me that this was too good an idea not to have occurred to someone before, so I did an on-line search and sure enough, fifteen years ago the TV show The Animaniacs did a Woodstock spoof based on the same Abbott and Costello routine. Theirs was quite funny as far as it went, but it did not develop along the lines that most appealed to me, so I am happy to publish my own musical take on this classic comedy sketch.

Besides, as Woody Guthrie once said, when a friend pointed out that another singer was stealing his stuff, "Ah hell, he only steals from me-I steal from everybody."

Ross Altman has a Ph.D. in English. Before becoming a full-time folk singer he taught college English and Speech. He now sings around California for libraries, unions, schools, political groups and folk festivals. You can reach Ross at Greygoosemusic@aol.com.


All Columns by Ross Altman